Sing Yin Secondary School student Tam Pok-man was crowned grand winner in the Student of the Year 2013 awards yesterday.
Tam, 17, believes he won because of his passion for science.
"I think I have a solid future plan and tangible dream. I want to become a scientist researching room-temperature superconductors," he said. "But the awards helped me realise I can't just be good at one aspect in life."
Tam outperformed 19 other shortlisted finalists in essay writing and interviews to win the HK$25,000 scholarship.
His passion for physics has taken him to a science symposium in Indonesia, where he discussed theories with Nobel laureate David Gross.
The ceremony took place at the Kowloon Shangri-la hotel. Eight students were presented with prizes. Among the guests were district councillor Paul Zimmerman, MTR Corp chief executive Jay Walder, and Allan Zeman, chairman of Lan Kwai Fong Holdings and Ocean Park.
First launched in 1974, the Student of the Year awards were run by the South China Morning Post until 2006. Relaunched last year, and sponsored by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, the awards cover eight disciplines.
The best sportsperson category went to Siobhan Haughey of St Paul's Secondary School; best community contributor was Lai Yuet-chi of Yan Oi Tong Tin Ka-ping Secondary School; the visual artist award went to Ashley Chung Hoi-lam of G.T. (Ellen Yeung) College; and best performing artist was Tse Tsz-yan from CCC Kei Yuen College.
The linguist awards come in three streams, with Belilios Public School's Lai Wun-chi prevailing in the English group. Li Yu-chim from La Salle College won the Cantonese category, while St Paul's Co-Educational College's Jenny Zheng scooped the award for Putonghua. All received HK$10,000 scholarships.
Permanent secretary for education Cherry Tse Ling Kit-ching, who was also present, praised the Post for reviving the awards.
"[The event] gives students an opportunity to look at the good things they have done," she said. "Perhaps in the process, they can also think about the inadequacies and things that they can improve on."